International News

Algerian Rebels Kill 15 Pupils Asleep in Dormitory
by Reuters
Posted: Sunday, December 17, 2000 02:49 pm CST

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian rebels machine-gunned to death 15 teenage students and a teacher as they lay in their beds at a boarding school over the weekend, hospital sources said on Sunday.

Other pupils dived under their beds as the gunfire erupted in their dormitory, most escaping unhurt although six were wounded.

About six rebels in military uniform burst into the dormitory of the Lycee Technique of Medea, 55 miles south of Algiers, on Saturday night and fired with sub-machine guns at the sleeping boys, aged between 17 and 19.

``Fifteen pupils and the school principal were killed and six other children suffered serious wounds'' a doctor at Medea main hospital said by telephone.

The doctor, who treated survivors, said the raid lasted about 10 minutes. He added that scores of pupils escaped unhurt by diving under their beds when the shooting began. The school is mixed but the raid was carried out just on the boys' dormitory.

Islamic fundamentalists have increased their attacks since the start, three weeks ago, of the holy month of Ramadan which they traditionally see as the sacred period for their struggle.

More than 100 people, including rebels, government troops and civilians have been killed so far this month.

Political sources speculated that the school was targeted because the rebels wanted to attract media attention with a spectacular attack.

Medea province is one of the main strongholds of the radical Armed Islamic Group (GIA) which has rejected a peace drive started last year by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika,

More than 100,000 people have been killed since 1992 in Algeria in a fundamentalist insurgency which began after the army-backed authorities canceled a general election which Muslim fundamentalists were poised to win.

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